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dodged with me above thirty years. I have loved her till she is is grown as grey as a cat, and am with much ado become the master of her person, such as it is at present. She is however in my eye a very charming old woman. We often lament that we did not marry sooner, but she has nobody to blame for it but herself. You know very well that she would never think of me whilst she had a tooth in her head. I have put the date of my passion (anno amoris trigesimo primo) instead of a posy on my wedding ring. I expect you should send me a congratulatory letter, or if you please, an epithalamium upon this occasion. Mrs. Martha's and your's eternally,
In order to banish an evil out of the world, that does not only produce great uneasiness to private persons, but has also a very bad influence on the public, I shall endeavour to show the folly of demurrage from two or three reflections which I earnestly recommend to the thoughts of my
fair readers. First of all I would have them seriously think on the shortness of their time. Life is not long enough for a coquette to play all her tricks in. A timorous woman drops into her grave before she has done deliberating Were the age of man the same that it was before the flood, a lady might sacrifice half a century to a scruple, and be two or three ages in demurring: Had she nine hundred years good, she might hold out to the conversion of the Jews before she thought fit to be prevailed upon. But, alas ! she ought to play her part in haste, when she considers that she is suddenly to quit the stage, and make room for others.
In the second place, I would desire my female readers to consider, that as the term of life is short, that of beauty is much shorter. The finest skin wrinkles in a few years, and loses the strength of its colourings so soon, that we have scarce time to admire it. I might embellish this subject with roses and rainbows, and several other ingenious conceits, which I may possibly reserve for another opportunity.
There is a third consideration which I would likewise recommend to a demurrer, and that is the great danger of her falling in love when she is about threescore, if she cannot satisfy her doubts and scruples before that time. There is a kind of latter spring, that sometimes gets into the blood of an old woman, and turns her into a very odd sort of an animal. I would therefore have the Demurrer consider what a strange figure she will make, if she chances to get over all difficulties, and comes to a final resolution, in that unseasonable part of her life.
I would not however be understood, by any thing I have here said, to discourage that natural modesty in the sex, which renders a retreat from the first approaches of a lover both fashionable and graceful. All that I intend is, to advise them, when they are prompted by reason and inclination, to demur only out of form, and so far as decency requires. A virtuous woman should reject the first offer of marriage, as a good man does that of a bishoprick; but I would advise neither the one nor the other to persist in refusing what they secretly approve. I would in this particular propose the example of Eve to all her daughters, as Milton has represented her in the following passage, which I cannot forbear transcribing intire, though only the twelve last lines are to my present purpose.
The rib he form'd and fashion'd with his hands ;
That what seem'd fair in all the world, seem'd now
She disappear'd, and left me dark; I wak'd
“ This turn hath made amends : thou hast fulfil'd
She heard me thus, and tho' divinely brought,
PARADISE LOST, viii. 469-511. L.
N° 90. WEDNESDAY, JUNE 13, 1711.
-Magnus sine viribus ignis
VIRG. Georg. iii. 99.
There is not, in my opinion, a consideration more effectual to extinguish inordinate desires in the soul of man, than the notions of Plato and his followers upon that subject. They tell us, that every passion which has been contracted by the soul during her residence in the body, remains with her in a separate state ; and that the soul in the body, or out of the body, differs no more than the man does from himself when he is in his house, or in open air. When therefore the obscene passions in particular have once taken root, and spread themselves in the soul, they cleave to her inseparably, and remain in her for ever, after the body is cast off and thrown aside. As an argument to confirm this their doctrine, they observe, that a lewd youth who goes on in a continued course of voluptuousness, advances by degrees into a libidinous old man; and that the passion survives in the mind when it is altogether dead in the body; nay, that the desire grows more violent, and (like all other habits) gathers strength by age, at the same time that it has no power of executing its own purposes. If, say they, the soul is the most subject to these passions at a time when it has the least instigations from the body, we may well suppose she will still retain them when she is entirely divested of it. The
very substance of the soul is festered with them, the gangrene
gone too far to be ever cured; the inflammation will rage to all eternity.
In this therefore (says the Platonists) consists the punishment of a voluptuous man after death. He is tormented with desires which it is impossible for him to gratify; solicited by a passion that has neither objects nor organs adapted to it. He lives in a state of invincible desire and impotence, and always burns in the pursuit of what he always despairs to possess. It is for this reason (says Plato) that the souls of the dead appear frequently in cemeteries, and hover about the places where their bodies are buried, as still hankering after their old brutal pleasures, and desiring again to enter the body that
them portunity of fulfilling them.
Some of our most eminent divines have made use of this Platonic notion, so far as it regards the subsistence of our passions after death, with great beauty and strength of reason. Plato indeed carries the thought very far when he grafts upon it his opinion of ghosts appearing in places of burial. Though, I must confess, if one did believe that the departed souls of men and women wandered up and down these lower regions, and entertained themselves with the sight of their species, one could not devise a more proper hell for an impure spirit than that which Plato has touched upon.
The ancients seem to have drawn such a state of torments in the description of Tantalus, who was punished with the rage of an eternal thirst, and set up to the chin in water that fed from his lips whenever he attempted to drink it.
Virgil, who has cast the whole system of Platonic philosophy, so far as it relates to the soul of man, into beautiful allegories, in the sixth book of his Eneid